Department, not State, could Hire, Fire Specialist, Making it her Employer

03 Sep, 2021 Frank Ferreri

                               

Chicago, IL (WorkersCompensation.com) – In government jobs, it can sometimes be tough to figure out whether the state, or the specific agency, is the actual employer.

But according to Yousif v. Illinois, No. 21 C 1302 (N.D. Ill. 08/24/21), in the 7th Circuit, which covers Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, it comes down to who can hire or fire an employee.

A juvenile justice specialist with Illinois’ Department of Juvenile Justice experienced injuries to her head, neck, and back in an accident at work. After the specialist worked in a light-duty position for about two months, the department removed her from light duty, terminated her workers’ compensation benefits, and ceased paying her temporary total disability.

A little more than a year later, the specialist returned to work in a light-duty position, and on her second day back at the job, she experienced injuries to her head, neck, and back in another accident.

Eventually, the department again removed her from light duty, terminated her workers’ compensation benefits, and ceased paying her temporary total disability.

The specialist sued the state, claiming that it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act through the department’s actions. The state moved to dismiss the case, arguing that it was not the specialist’s employer.

7th Circuit Standards

Under precedent cases from the 7th Circuit, a state employee’s employer is the specific agency for which she works and not the state.

As a result of this precedent, the court found that the specialist did not have a claim against the state.

“Although [the specialist] alleges that the state hired her and that the state is her actual employer, her complaint also states that her positions were with the [department], she submitted forms and requests to the [department’s] human resources department, and many of her communications were with [department] staff and supervisors,” the court wrote. “While the court must accept as true the facts alleged in the complaint and draw all inferences in favor of [the specialist], the court finds it implausible that the state, rather than the [department], was plaintiff's employer with hiring and firing responsibility.”

In reaching its decision to dismiss the specialist’s claims, the court relied on two 7th Circuit cases:

Because the state could not hire or fire the specialist, she could not allege that it was her employer.

 


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    About The Author

    • Frank Ferreri

      Frank Ferreri, M.A., J.D. covers workers' compensation legal issues. He has published books, articles, and other material on multiple areas of employment, insurance, and disability law. Frank received his master's degree from the University of South Florida and juris doctor from the University of Florida Levin College of Law. Frank encourages everyone to consider helping out the Kind Souls Foundation and Kids' Chance of America.

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